Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Hourglass

The short version:
Zedd—Clarity: 6/10
Labrinth—Electronic Earth: 7/10
Petri Alanko—Alan Wake: 7/10
Petri Alanko—Alan Wake's American Nightmare: 4/10
Charli XCX—True Romance: 5/10
Daft Punk—Random Access Memories: 5/10

Zedd's album Clarity is a dance album with music that you can dance to if you're into that sort of thing.  Dancing, I mean.  I would like this album more but a lot of the tracks are frankly pretty obnoxious in parts (even if they're otherwise not bad), and it's full of dance music tropes like noisy crescendos.  The opening track Hourglass is pretty great though, possibly because the first half of it sounds more like OneRepublic with a girl than a dance song.  Anyway, it's really well-constructed.  Speaking of OneRepublic, the second best is Lost at Sea featuring Ryan Tedder: it's pleasant, and it doesn't try to make me feel bad for sitting stationary while I listen.  The title track Clarity is third place, with a strong beat and strong vocals.  And then there are awful travesties like Fall into the Sky featuring Ellie Goulding, which sounds like it's a butchered cover of itself.  Anyway, most of the album's just okay; with a little more creativity I think it would have been a lot less forgettable.

I first expected Labrinth's Electronic Earth to be another dance album, and I thought about it that way at first, but once I realized it was "just" pop music (complete with too much Auto-Tune) with a bit more post-production it all made more sense to me.  There are three standout tracks: Treatment, Climb on Board, and Sweet Riot; and all three of those are infectiously catchy and are produced extremely well.  I'm glad I gave it a shot; the only song on here I recognized at first was Earthquake, which is full of annoying whiny noises which probably would have been clever if they weren't repeating throughout the entire song.  I'd recommend it to anyone who likes pop music that reeks of computers.

I got the Alan Wake and Alan Wake's American Nightmare soundtracks by Petri Alanko through a Humble Bundle.  I already owned the games for the Xbox—Alan Wake is incredible by the way, and you should definitely own it—but I picked them up again for the PC to get the soundtracks.  The first game's soundtrack is rather decent and fantastically moody; the second game American Nightmare's soundtrack not so great by comparison.  From the former, A Writer's Dream, Tom the Diver, and Hunters are good examples.  There are also a couple metal tracks by the metal band Poets of the Fall on some versions of the soundtrack.  If you've played the game—and, again, you should—then you'll recognize the band's music from one of the game's hilariously wonderful showdown scenes.  The latter game's soundtrack is shorter and not as interesting; Emma is a good example track.  It's unfortunate but quite expected that none of the licensed songs made it onto the soundtrack, such as Poe's Haunted or Kasabian's Club Foot.  Alan Wake made very good use of music, and even though most of the soundtrack is moody and not symphonic masterpieces, it's pretty well done.

I discovered Charli XCX through her guest appearance on Icona Pop's album and I decided to pick up her debut, True Romance.  It's okay but quite forgettable, with no tracks that stand out extremely well.  Nuclear Seasons, Set Me Free, and Black Roses are good examples.  I guess the style is probably something like "indie electronic," or just "alternative" for short.  I dunno.  Might be more worth checking out if you like 80s music; for some reason or another it has a mild 80s pop vibe to me.

I don't like Daft Punk's new album Random Access Memories.  There; I said it.  Burn me at the stake if you must.  In this album they've gone from an electronic band that samples funk to a modernized funk band.  In their first single for the CD, Get Lucky featuring Pharrell Williams, you wouldn't even have a reason to call it a Daft Punk track were it not for a little bit of their signature robot voice at the end.  Contact is fun, Touch featuring Paul Williams is weird but pleasant, and Giorgio by Moroder ends up quite nice as well, but starts with nearly two minutes of talking that I'll need to clip out to retain my sanity.  Anyway, their artistry is apparent, but their arty experimentation isn't enough to make me want to listen to this as much as their past work.

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